Saturday, September 22, 2007

Practice makes 90% accurate

I need to do some memory training. Haven't done any since the world championships, demonstrations for journalists and TV people aside, and I need to stay in shape all year if I'm going to actually win the blasted world memory championship next time round. I also need to work on memorising cards by shuffling them between my hands (like I was doing on This Morning), rather than turning them over like I normally do. I'm pretty sure I could go faster if I do it that way, but it'll take me a while to get used to it. But there's just not so much motivation to practice when there isn't a competition for so long. Anyone out there want to organise one for me?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Someone pimp me!

Ever have one of those days when it feels like you've done nothing but talk to TV people? Well, I might be exaggerating things here, but I did talk to two different TV people today in a matter of minutes, and that's two more than I talk to in an average day. So I'm going to Ireland for September 30th, to be gently derided by comedians, and London on October 4th to test my memory against the best the non-human world can offer. Also, you can see my This Morning performance here. Enjoy! (It's not very exciting.)

Maybe I should get an agent. An agent could talk to these people for me and just give me the edited highlights. And an agent might be able to persuade some of these TV people to pay me actual money for these TV appearances. That'd be cool.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On the panel

I've heard on the grapevine that Irish TV show "The Panel" want me on. I don't know the show, but I can only assume they have a sort of guess-the-nonentity kind of sequence, a la Never Mind The Buzzcocks. You can watch an episode on the website, in which the panellists discuss the Irish elections in an entertaining way. I have secretly always wanted to be on Have I Got News For You, this could be a step in the right direction...

Incidentally, everyone who watched This Morning (a list which seems to consist of Grandma and Ian) says it was great. I'm a star!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This Morning, this afternoon and my pants

This Morning was great fun. They cut my bit shorter than planned to make way for some 'breaking news' about Madeleine McCann (I tell you, it's hard to be a minor celebrity right now), but I still got to chat with Phillip Schofield and Fern Britton, memorise a pack of cards and impress an audience of millions. Well, thousands, at least, I'm not sure what kind of viewing figures they get. I also got Phillip to give me an autograph for my grandma ("To Dorothy, lots of love"), which will make her day - she fancies him. Meeting him was rather groovy for me too, I grew up watching him presenting children's BBC and it's strange to realise that he's actually a real person.

This afternoon, I had to hurry back to Derby for my interview with DHL. However, I got a bus that I thought would take me there only to find that it had dropped me at a different DHL place miles away, with no way to get to the right place. So no new job there, but never mind. If I can't get there by public transport, it's not the job for me anyway.

Also, I'm confused about my pants. I have two pairs of green tartan boxer shorts that are seriously falling to pieces ('more holey than righteous', as Grandma says), so I don't wear them much. At least I think I don't, but I've noticed that every time I take a load of washing out of the machine, those old green pants are in there, without me remembering wearing them. It's very strange. Is someone breaking into my flat on a regular basis, wearing my pants and putting them in the wash?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's in the bag

I've just packed my trusty rucksack to go down to London tonight. I'm worried that it might be reaching the end of its lifespan, though - at the othello at the weekend, the remaining zipper came off and I can't get it back on, so it's going to remain closed for all eternity now. This isn't an insurmountable problem, because of the big hole through which I normally put things in and take them out of the bag, but it makes it more difficult to fit oversized things inside.

It's a Reebok rucksack, black and what used to be a very garish pink before it faded over the decades to a gentle pastel hue, with still just about legible the motto "Pump It Up!" on the front. It's given me many years' service now, and before that it served my brother well as the bag he took his PE kit to school in. He hated PE, and probably transferred some of his dislike for the subject to his PE kit bag, so I think I did the bag a favour when I borrowed it in 1994 and never returned it. It's had a life of continued variety since then - it went to university with me, it's helped me move into my own rented room, followed by my first flat on my own, it's been to MSOs and othello tournaments, it's gone with me to the USA, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Malaysia, Bahrain and elsewhere, and it's still more or less in one piece. I think it's still good for a few years yet, before it becomes actually impossible to carry things around in it. Then maybe I'll have it framed and hang it up on the wall.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Zoomy Doubles For Darwin

Now this is the kind of thing that makes me really, really glad I'm a memory champion! Forwarded from the WMSC, an email from another TV producer:

Dear Secretary,

I am producing a series entitled Extraordinary Animals for Channel 5/BBC World, exploring animal behaviour and intelligence. Each 30 minute film will focus on an animal who has shown exceptional abilities and has furthered scientific understanding not only of its' species but also of our own.

One of our films features AI, a remarkable female chimp living at the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University. Working with Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa and his team, she has mastered the ability to count to ten, memorise symbols for numbers (including Arabic), and words for colours. Both she, and her son Ayumu have shown remarkable ability in a memory test where numbers 1 to 9 appear on a screen randomly, are then covered up and the chimps remember their positions. They can do this at speed.

We have completed our filming in Japan with the professor and the chimps and it really is truly amazing to see them doing the test. However, to see just how skilled they are, I feel we need to see humans take the same test. It would be fascinating to see the result. As the chimps are extraordinary, I think it only fair to use extraordinary humans. It would be fantastic to find British memory champions/experts to take part – both adult and junior. Do you think you might be able to help or refer me elsewhere?

We plan to shoot the test in London in early October. Should you require any further information, please contact me.

Can the British memory champion out-memorise a chimpanzee? Wouldn't it be cool if the answer was no?

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Why when I posted that blog entry did I get a screen saying

"Your blog post published successfully!
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I'm sure I haven't told Blogger to give me part of their status reports in German.


Not the annoying flying insects, the not at all annoying national othello championship. Sorry I didn't post anything yesterday, but Geoff and Michael were staying over and I still don't like blogging when someone's watching me. I don't know why, seeing as I'm aware that people are going read what I'm writing anyway. Still, I'm not sure I was a perfect host, as shown by the following conversation when Michael asked for black coffee:

Me: Oh, there isn't any. I normally keep some in the house for guests, but I took it down to the community centre so we'd have something to drink at the tournament, and it's still there. Ditto milk, sugar and tea.
Michael: What is there to drink, then?
Me: Water.
Michael: Fine. (going to the sink)
Me: Oh, also, the cold tap doesn't work.

Well, I never claimed this was the Ritz. Anyway, the competition all went fine - I had been worried that the venue, a cheap and somewhat shabby but extremely nice community centre not too far from the city centre, would have cancelled my booking, even though I called on Friday to confirm that it was still happening, or would otherwise take exception to us, but no, it was all okay. I must be a great organiser after all. We had the AGM before the championship started, which was as exciting as usual. Graham filled in as chairman while Aubrey's busy in America promoting his new book (just for a change - I think this is the fifth year in a row that we've called on Graham's services as official Acting Something-Or-Other).

By the time the competition was ready to start, we had a whopping 18 competitors. This forced me to cycle home and get another board, but we didn't start too late - luckily, really, since we only had the room till six before we had to make way for a live 'guitar vocalist'. Among the 18, just for maximum confusion value, were two Davids, two Jeremys, two Roberts and two Ians (well, one Ian and one Iain, but that's not a big help when you're reading out names). I think some othello players need to splash out on a name change to something more exotic and unique, like Imre or Aubrey.

I lost to Imre in round one, disappointingly enough - three wins in a row against him would have been something to really boast about - but made up for it with a really cool win against Michael in the third round. I've never done that before. Now I just need to work out how to beat Graham some time. Geoff's got the knack of that - he beat Graham in round two, while Iain beat Imre. That pretty much set the standard for the tournament as a whole - it really wasn't one of those championships where the highest-rated players beat everyone below them on the rating list, there were upsets and surprises all over the place. Iain drew with David Hand in round three, so at the end of the first day David Beck was on his own at the top of the table with three wins.

We went to a Thai restaurant in the evening, it being the first place we could find that wasn't full up. Actually, it was nearly empty when we all piled in. The food was good, though, but the service wasn't what you would call exceptional. A surprisingly extensive discussion about coca-cola led to Jeremy Dyer learning that they do in fact still make cans of cherry coke, and my revelation that in Bahrain, the coke cans still have old-fashioned ringpulls.

Today, I didn't manage to follow up that win over Michael with any more impressive results, unless you count winning on time against Ian when I was well and truly dead on the board. Graham also beat me 63-1, just to teach me not to get too cocky. Elsewhere, David Hand rather impressively made it two draws in a row with his first game of the day against David Beck, who then beat Graham but lost to Iain, who took the lead after five rounds but then lost to Imre and Graham, Geoff and Jeremy Das. Geoff was in contention for the lead all the way through, as were both Davids and Michael. It was anyone's guess who would end up in the final, but normality reasserted itself at the last, and it ended up being Graham versus Imre, for about the 73rd time. Imre won for the (genuinely) ninth time. Congratulations to him!

We had lunch in the Dunkirk Tavern down the road from the venue. Their food selection turned out to be rather less extensive than I'd assumed it would be from the sign outside promising inexpensive Sunday roasts - it didn't add "and no other kinds of food" - but it was very nice. All in all, the whole thing went really well, and a fun time was had by all! So I needn't have worried about it all going wrong and me getting the blame.